12 Mar The Babysitter
“The Babysitter”Written by William Dalphin Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 4 minutes
The year was 1989. The McCallisters had just moved to the small town of Northfield. Todd McCallister had finally gotten his teaching license along with a job teaching history at the high school. Maria was content to stay home with their two children: Alexis, a rambunctious four-year-old, and Franklin, who had just learned to walk. When the children were down for their afternoon naps, she got a little time to herself, which she spent neatly stitching together a variety of plush animals.
The town was quiet and peaceful, nestled in a shady valley, mostly bordered by forest. The noisiest it normally got was when the occasional train passed through on its way to other places. The biggest story the police blotter ever got was a drunk and disorderly.
It was late October, and the deciduous trees were turning from green to yellow, orange and fiery red. There was a bitter cold wind blowing down from the mountains, and people on the sidewalks would angle their chins down for that extra bit of warmth. Plumes of smoke drifted lazily from many a chimney that day.
There was a town hall meeting that evening. Maria wished to attend it. The town hosted a bazaar every month where local artisans and crafters could sell their creations, and she wanted to sign up for a table to sell some of her stuffed animals. They decided to hire a babysitter to watch Alexis and Franklin.
One of the other teachers had recommended a girl to Todd by the name of Caitlyn Evans. He had not had her in his class but was told she was a straight-A student, good with children, and had babysat for many of the parents in the town. She didn’t have a boyfriend and kept mostly to herself, so there was no reason to worry about her running up a huge phone bill or having a bunch of other teens over who’d end up trashing the house.
Caitlyn arrived at the McCallister house promptly at 6:00 PM. Todd offered to take her coat and scarf, but she shook her head, saying in a very soft voice that she was still cold from the walk over and wanted to keep them on for a while. She looked ill to Maria; her complexion seemed pale. She asked Caitlyn if she was okay, and the girl nodded silently. They introduced Alexis and Franklin to her. Franklin cried at being left with a stranger, but Alexis took to her immediately, clinging to her leg and following her around as she got a tour of the house.
“When will you be home by?” Caitlyn asked.
“We won’t be later than 9:00,” Todd said.
“Okay, but you have to promise. No later than 9. You have to be home before 9. I can’t stay later,” she said.
“I promise,” Todd said with a smile.
Todd and Maria attended the town hall, where Maria was able to sign up for a table at the coming bazaar. They made some new acquaintances and ended up staying a little later than they had anticipated. When they heard the town bell chime nine times, they realized they were late getting home, said their goodbyes, grabbed their coats and left.
Outside the town hall, people were gathered, talking rapidly at each other. Everybody had a look of horror and shock written on their face. Someone was crying. Todd and Maria wondered what was going on, but didn’t have time to stop and ask. As they passed the crowd, however, they heard one woman telling another who had just come out.
“Did you hear? The Evans’ girl killed herself!” Her words made Todd and Maria stop in shock and rush quickly to the group.
“Caitlyn Evans?” Todd asked in a panic.
“Yes, that’s right,” the lady said thoughtfully, “Poor thing. Can’t say I’m surprised, though. Father’s something of an alcoholic and a mean drunk at that. Why, just last month George Taylor had to call the police five times for all the noise from his yelling. And George lives two doors down from them! I used to see her walking to school every morning, and–”
Todd and Maria stood rigid, not listening, their minds a whirl of confusion and horror. Who was watching Alexis and Franklin? Had she killed herself in front of their children? They ran the entire way home, expecting to find police cars with flashing lights and ambulances parked on their lawn. Instead, the house lay quiet when they got there. The porch light was still on, and the front door locked as they had left it.
Inside, the house was empty. Caitlyn, Alexis and Franklin were nowhere to be found. Maria got on the phone and called the police while Todd continued searching, calling their names. He checked the attic and the backyard, but they were nowhere to be found.
Coming back inside, he listened as Maria cried into the phone.
“Were there any other children there?” she asked the person on the other end of the line.
Todd sat down, his legs feeling like jelly. On the kitchen table was a note. He picked it up and unfolded it. It was written in a feminine hand…Caitlyn’s.
You promised you’d be home by 9. I can’t stay any later. I can’t leave the children alone, so they’re coming with me.
Maria hung up the phone. Her face was pale. She held the table for support, and Todd grabbed her, guiding her to a chair.
“What did they say?” he asked her. “Were Alexis and Franklin there? Did they see what happened?”
“No…” was all Maria could say. “No…”
Todd showed her the note. “She said she took them with her.”
“They weren’t at her house,” Maria said. She stared at the note, then at Todd. Her eyes seemed to look through him at something that wasn’t there.
“She had been dead for at least five hours.”
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None AvailableWilliam Dalphin Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A